Newspaperofrecord dictates the tempo in Just a Game (G1) score
by Keith McCalmont
Newspaperofrecord dictates the tempo in G1 Just a Game score
Irad Ortiz, Jr. wins five on the card
Klaravich Stables' Newspaperofrecord, undefeated as a juvenile en route to a score in the 2018 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, continued a perfect start to her 4-year-old campaign with a commanding frontrunning score in the Grade 1, $250,000 Just a Game at one-mile over the Widener turf course on a rainy Saturday at Belmont Park.
The 27th edition of the Just a Game capped a stakes-laden card that also featured the Grade 2, $250,000 New York, won by Mean Mary at 1 ¼ miles on the inner turf; the Grade 2, $150,000 True North for 4-year-olds and up going 6 ½ furlongs captured by Firenze Fire; and a 27-1 upset from Victim of Love in the Grade 3, $100,000 Vagrancy for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up sprinting 6 ½ furlongs on the main track.
Trained by four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown, Newspaperofrecord was winless in three sophomore starts, but returned to form in her 4-year-old debut with a four-length gate-to-wire win in the Grade 3 Intercontinental on June 6 at Belmont.
Sent to post as the even-money second choice behind stablemate Uni, the reigning Champion Turf Female, Newspaperofrecord zipped to the lead out of post 3 under regular pilot Irad Ortiz, Jr. and marked the opening quarter-mile in 23.79 seconds on the turf labeled firm.
Newspaperofrecord continued to lead the charge down the backstretch, reaching the half-mile in 48.13 with Valedictorian in close pursuit followed by a large gap back to stablemates Regal Glory and Uni.
Uni, with Joel Rosario up, and Regal Glory, under Belmont Stakes-winning rider Manny Franco, launched their bids in tandem through the turn as Valedictorian faded with Newspaperofrecord's lead diminishing. Ortiz, Jr., sensing the pressure, took a quick peek back at the competition and asked his talented filly for more and she instantly responded with a tremendous turn of foot to separate herself from the competition.
Newspaperofrecord bounded effortlessly away from the field down the lane to secure the three-length length victory in a final time of 1:35.62. Multiple graded-stakes winner Beau Recall rallied from last to earn place by a half-length over Uni. Regal Glory, Zofelle, and Valedictorian rounded out the order of finish. Got Stormy was scratched.
The victory marked the fourth consecutive Just a Game win for Brown, who won previously with Antonoe , A Raving Beauty  and Rushing Fall .
Brown said he was proud of the impressive effort from Newspaperofrecord on three week's rest.
"We trained her lightly and she has been training very relaxed. Last time, she was going really fast and was a little fresh," said Brown. "Irad was confident that he could get her to rate a little bit. I loved our post today, off the fence a little bit. The last-minute showers didn't hurt us either. We all know that she likes a little juice in the ground. It was a good effort after three weeks. I was very proud of her. My team has done a great job with her. She's never looked better. She's training so comfortably in the mornings."
Ortiz, Jr. said Newspaperofrecord could continue to carry her speed even further going forward.
"She's doing good and has come back really good," said Ortiz, Jr. "Going seven-eighths to a mile is good for her; she can go further, too, and I would not be afraid to go a mile and a sixteenth. I just followed Chad's instructions."
Ortiz, Jr. enjoyed a remarkable day at the races with five wins from 10 mounts on the 11-race card. He secured the early double with Sun Summers and Foolish Ghost and notched his third with Flying Finish in the day's fifth race ahead of a score in the Grade 2 True North with Firenze Fire.
The veteran rider, who leads the Belmont spring / summer meet with 27 wins, has earned Eclipse Award honors as Outstanding Jockey the past two seasons. He said the five-win day is a continuation of his dedication to excellence.
"It feels great. I have great support from all the owners and trainers. I'm so happy," said Ortiz, Jr. "It's a dream and I'm working really hard because right now I'm on top in my career. I try to stay focused and try to do the right thing. It's big for me; anytime you can get five wins, it's amazing."
His brother, Jose Ortiz, said he was pleased with the effort to rally from last-of-six aboard Beau Recall to complete the exacta.
"It was a great effort. I broke OK. She got into a good position and a good rhythm. It's really soft out there," said Ortiz. "I followed Uni the whole way around there and had a great trip. The winner is just a freak on the soft turf. She loves it."
Rosario, aboard beaten favorite Uni, said his mare would have appreciated a contested pace.
"She went nice around there and I started making my move early. It looked like the pace wasn't fast," said Rosario. "I knew there was soft ground. She tried really hard, but today was not her day. I think she needed the race."
Newspaperofrecord began her career with victories in a Saratoga turf maiden event, the Grade 2 Miss Grillo at Belmont Park and the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs by a combined 20 lengths. As a sophomore, the Lope de Vega bay completed the exacta in the Grade 3 Edgewood at Churchill Downs and the Grade 3 Wonder Again at Belmont ahead of an off-the-board effort in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational.
Bred in Ireland by Times of Wigan, Newspaperofrecord banked $137,500 in victory while improving her record to 8-4-2-0. She paid $4.10 for a $2 win ticket.
Live racing resumes Sunday with a nine-race card headlined by the $100,000 Bouwerie, a seven-furlong sprint for New York-bred sophomore fillies in Race 8 at 5:04 p.m. Eastern. First post is 1:15 p.m.